Predicting with the Stars
Suppose that every time a person looked up at the stars, he or she could predict the outcome of his or her daily life, such as marriage, death, or even future career paths. From the early days of the Babylonians to present day, astrology has played a key role in the lives of many individuals, but how does one know that it is reliable? Often confused with astronomy, the study of celestial bodies in the universe, astrology is used as a way to predict one’s future based off of the positioning of the solar system. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, three witches are responsible for predicting the future outcome of the character Macbeth. With roots in southern Babylonia, astrology is the study of the influences the positions of the stars and the planets have on human behavior and future outcomes.
Originating over six thousand years ago, astrology is a science that requires the analysis of the positions of celestial bodies in space. The Chaldeans, a tribe from southern Babylonia, used he stars as guidance and the phases of the moon to create months, which typically lasted about twenty-nine to thirty days (Bakich). In analyzing the phases of the moon, constellations were then created, and through the discovery of constellations came the zodiac, or “circle of animals” (Bakich). The zodiac was then split into twelve subdivisions known as signs, and “each sign represents a space in the zodiac ruled by one of the twelve constellations” (Bakich). These zodiacs are believed to show the characteristics of the people within the zodiac (Bakich). Not only did astrology play a major role for the Chaldeans, but astrology existed in Elizabethan times as well.
Once astrology was established in Babylonian times, it played a key role in the Elizabethan era as well. In popular plays such as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, predicting one’s fate is a major theme throughout the plotline. At the beginning of the play, three witches prophesied that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and king thereafter and Banquo “shalt get kings, though thou be none” (1.3.70). No sooner after the prophesy, it was announced to Macbeth that he was named Thane of Cawdor due to the captain’s death. Once the death was pronounced for the captain’s traitorous actions for aiding Norway, Macbeth was placed in the position, a possible foreshadowing of traitorous actions on Macbeth’s part. This occurrence made it easier to believe that what they witches suggested would come true. In the Elizabethan era, small...